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Don't Let Your Pets Get Freaked Out By NYE Fireworks

Dogs at Town Lake Animal Center
Photo by Nathan Bernier for KUT News
Two dogs wait to be adopted at Town Lake Animal Center. The shelter says its stray intake is expected to increase because of New Year's fireworks.

To some people, New Year's Eve fireworks displays like this one are an awe-inspiring form of entertainment.

But to many cats and dogs, it sounds more like the end of the world.

"Sharp, fast, loud noises scare animals," Austin Animal Control Officer Holli Odom told KUT News. "Typically what happens is dogs and cats that are left outdoors, it's fight or flight and they run."

She says many of the dogs and cats that take flight during the fireworks wind up at the shelter.

"People see all these stray animals running all over the place, and they bring them in trying to do the right thing so they don't get hit by cars, so our intake numbers go sky high," Odom said.

Unofficial numbers from Town Lake Animal Center (TLAC) show the numbers of strays they took in the days after New Year's 2010 year jumped more than fifty percent.  There were 72 strays dropped at TLAC in the four days prior to last year's New Year's Eve celebrations.  In the four days after, there were 113 strays dropped off, an increase of 41.

And this could be an even louder New Year's that last. Some fireworks vendors say more people than ever are stocking up on recreational pyrotechnics. Jeff Coffee at American Fireworks in Bastrop says they're projecting a 30 percent jump in sales.

"It's going to be a great year for fireworks. The wet weather and the safe firing conditions really has a lot more people interested in shooting off fireworks this season," Coffee said.

Fireworks stores in Travis County are still not selling bottle rockets or missiles this year. They agreed to pull them from their shelves voluntarily, when County Commissioners instituted a burn ban earlier this month. 

Austin City Council passed a "No-Kill" ordinance at Town Lake Animal Center in 2010. But that is on entirely dependent on cage space, so if a large number of strays are admitted after New Year's and capacity exceeds 100 percent, animals may be euthanized. But you can help by adopting a pet and for the entire month of January, dogs over 45 pounds can be adopted at no cost.  

Full disclosure: A family member of KUT's Associate Station Director is an employee at the Town Lake Animal Center.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @KUTnathan.
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